Traditionally speaking, sending newsletters required signing up (or even paying for) email marketing services. Things have dramatically changed with the advent of WordPress. Today, with plugins like MailPoet, you can send beautifully designed, responsive newsletters to your subscribers, using just your WordPress host — all for free. If you want to create an easy yet straightforward newsletter, you’ve come to the right place. In this MailPoet review, we’ll show you the ropes on how to set up a newsletter campaign in WordPress for free, using the MailPoet plugin.
Used by over 100,000 active websites, with 400+ reviews, Mailpoet is one of the best solutions out in the WordPress plugins repository. It is an email marketing plugin for WordPress where you can create appealing signup forms, manage and collect your subscribers, and of course, send promotional emails and newsletters. Mailpoet is a feature-rich plugin and you can use it completely for free. Mailpoet also offers a limit that is surprisingly huge which amounts to 1,000 subscribers. Honestly, having the following tools for a perfect newsletter is already included in the free version. If you have a large enterprise or agency, you can also upgrade to Mailpoet Premium which has an unlimited number of subscribers, without sending.
- Blogger License – €149 per year good for 1 site
- Freelancer License – €249 per year good for 4 websites
- Agency License – €499 per year good for unlimited websites
If you wish to avail the Mailpoet with sending, they have 2 payment plans which are Monthly and Yearly. If you exceed the 1,000 subscribers limit, the price will depend on the number of subscribers you need.
MailPoet Key Features
- Design great looking responsive emails using its drag-and-drop email builder.
- Provides pre-designed templates for your newsletters.
- Set up email automation campaigns (such as post notification emails, welcome emails and automated emails for WooCommerce) using the plugin.
- Maintain multiple email lists with unlimited subscribers.
- Ensures that your emails reach the inbox and not land in spam, thanks to the choice of the email delivery partner.
- Send emails using (a) MailPoet Email Sending Service (unlimited emails, free for up to 2000 subscribers), (b) a third-party service like SendGrid or Amazon SES, or (c) from your WordPress host to save cost.
- WooCommerce integrated. Suitable for business users.
- MailPoet works right out of the box, with little or no configuration. You can go from design to sending the newsletter in a handful of minutes.
- It’s one of the few email marketing plugins in the market that offers all its premium features in their free plan, with a limit of 1,000 subscribers.
- Rapid feature improvements with weekly updates.
- Active support that replies within a few hours, accessible from within the plugin.
- If you’re using the MailPoet Email Sending Service, you can send over 50,000 emails per hour (that’s over 13 emails/second). This is quite useful for processing large email lists.
- The plugin’s email scheduler might require additional setup on your host via cron jobs. This only impacts a small set of users. If you’re one of them — feel free to contact the MailPoet support team for help.
- The pre-built templates are limited.
MailPoet Installation & Setup
Since this is a reasonably large tutorial, we’ve decided to start with the basics and slowly proceed to advanced topics.
Installing & Configuring the MailPoet Newsletter Plugin
Start by heading over to the WordPress dashboard → Plugins → Add New and search for “MailPoet”. Press on Install Now to install and activate the plugin.
MailPoet Plugin: Initial Configuration
Once the plugin is activated, you’ll see a new entry in the WordPress sidebar called “MailPoet”. Click on it to begin the plugin’s initial setup.
In the above screenshot, the fields represent the sender’s information. When you send a newsletter, this data will be displayed to your subscriber. Here’s an example of how that looks:
It’s a good practice to use the same email ID for the from and reply-to email addresses, for newsletters pertaining to personal blogs. This makes communication easy — by enabling your subscribers to hit “Reply” from their email client directly.
In the second step, you have the option to subscribe to MailPoet’s own email marketing course. If you’re new to the game, you should subscribe. Moving on to the next step!
In the final phase of the configuration, you can share anonymous usage data that would help improve the plugin. That concludes the initial plugin configuration. Next, we’ll show you how to create an email list.
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Creating your First Email List in MailPoet
MailPoet comes with three default email lists:
- A demo list called My First List
- A WooCommerce Customers list that automatically imports your WooCommerce customers, if the plugin is installed.
- A WordPress Users list that imports all your existing WordPress users. This is the same set of users that are present in the Users tab in the WordPress sidebar.
In our tutorial, we’ll rename the My First List to Newsletter Subscribers and use it as our primary email list.
Importing Existing Subscribers to MailPoet
If you have a current list of email subscribers, you can easily import them to any list in MailPoet. Go to WordPress dashboard → MailPoet → Subscribers and click on Import. You can either copy-paste user information or upload a CSV file. If you’re using MailChimp, then you can directly import subscribers via their API.
Creating a Newsletter in WordPress using MailPoet
There are three types of newsletters you can create with MailPoet:
- The default newsletter – which is manually designed and sent. You can also schedule these newsletters to be sent at a specific date and time.
- The automated newsletter – which is sent every time a new user signs up to your email list. These are popularly known as Welcome Emails.
- The Post Notification campaign – wherein email notifications are sent whenever a new post is published in your blog. This is great for sending quick email updates to your subscribers, without a single click.
Here’s how to create a simple Newsletter campaign in MailPoet.
Start by heading over to WordPress dashboard → MailPoet → Emails. Click on Add New as shown in the screenshot above.
In this step, choose the type of campaign. Under the Newsletter box, click on Create to proceed to the next step.
Choosing a pre-built template layout — step 3
Select a newsletter template. MailPoet offers over 50 different templates across three campaign types. Select one that you like and proceed to the next step.
Designing the newsletter in MailPoet — step 4
In this step, you can design the newsletter using MailPoet’s drag-and-drop email builder. Each Content Block on the right can be used to implement various aspects of your newsletter’s design.
The outcome is a responsive newsletter that looks great on any device — desktop or mobile!
Scheduling the newsletter campaign — step 5
Once you’ve designed the newsletter, it’s time to send it. Select (a) an actionable subject line, (b) a list to which to send the newsletter, and (c) sender and reply-to info (make sure to double-check the emails). Once done, hit Send.
Note that in our tutorial, we’ve chosen to schedule the campaign (as shown in the screenshot above).
Adding Newsletter Signup Form in WordPress
Now that you’ve prepared the signup form, it’s time to add it to your site. You can do this by using the MailPoet widget, or by using the plugin’s shortcodes in your posts and pages. In the screenshot above, we’ve used the MailPoet widget to add a signup form in our site’s sidebar. The following screenshot shows a default subscription form in the Twenty Sixteen theme.
Example of a newsletter signup form in WordPress added using MailPoet widget.
Advanced: MailPoet Email Delivery Configuration
The last thing you want with your newsletter is the emails landing up in the spam folder. They almost never get seen and are eventually deleted.
Email deliverability is one of those technical factors that decide whether your newsletters reach the inbox, or end up in spam. That’s why ESPs (email service providers) invest a lot of resources on their email infrastructure, to enable top-notch email deliverability.
MailPoet enables you to send emails in three different methods:
- Web Host
- Third-party services.
- Own email delivery service.
Let’s discuss each of them.
Sending Newsletters from your WordPress Web Host using MailPoet
By default, MailPoet will use your WordPress host to send the newsletters. This helps you cut costs even when you have a large list. However, each host has a limit on the number of emails you can send per hour. Check out this KB article that enlists all the supported hosts and their sending limit. To configure your email delivery method, go to the WordPress dashboard → MailPoet → Settings → Send With tab. Under the Others box, select Configure. You should see the following settings as shown in the screenshot below.
MailPoet Email Delivery configuration — via WordPress web host
- Select the Method as Your web host/web server.
- Under the Your web host dropdown, choose your web hosting provider. MailPoet will automatically determine the sending frequency.
- Send a test email to check if the emails are landing in your inbox. If not, then you need to configure the SPF Signature settings by consulting your web host’s support team.
- Click on Activate to save the settings.
If your web host is not mentioned in the list, you need to manually configure the sending frequency. You can start with a limit of 50 emails per hour. Furthermore, you can increase or decrease the limit based on any account overuse notice from your web hosting provider.
Configuring MailPoet’s Free Email Delivery Service
Consider these two aspects of a newsletter plugin:
- Ease of use — This involves minimal plugin configuration, where users can simply design their newsletter and hit send (without even leaving the WordPress dashboard).
- Robust email deliverability — An infrastructure that ensures that your emails land in your subscribers’ inbox.
So far we’ve seen that we can have either one of them. The moment you want to configure email delivery options, you’ve somewhat lost the ease of use factor. What if there was a way you could have both?
Enter MailPoet’s free email delivery service. Think of it like SendGrid, but easier to use. It lets you send unlimited emails for free, for up to 2,000 subscribers.
When you activate this service, emails are sent using MailPoet’s own infrastructure — giving you top-notch email deliverability. Configuring the service is as simple as getting an API key and entering it into your plugin.
Sounds interesting? Here’s how you can do it:
Signing up for MailPoet’s free email delivery service — step 1
The first step is to sign up for MailPoet’s free plan.
Signing up for MailPoet’s free email delivery service — step 2
Once you’ve created an account, go to your Account settings in MailPoet.com and click on the Pay Nothing button to subscribe to their Free Plan.
Generating an API key in MailPoet’s free email delivery plan
That will generate your API key. You’ll need to copy-paste this in the MailPoet plugin on your WordPress site.
Adding an Authorized Email in MailPoet
Adding an authorized email address in MailPoet’s free email delivery plan
In this step, you need to add an authorized email to your MailPoet.com account. This is the email that you’ll use to send your newsletters. It should be the same email used in the From field you had initially configured at the beginning of this tutorial.
Example of the sender’s info in a newsletter campaign
- In the My Authorized Emails tab, enter the email in the Email address field and click on Add Email Address.
- A confirmation email will be sent to this address.
- Click on the link in the email to complete the process.
Once done, go to the My Subscriptions tab and copy the API key, and head over to your WordPress dashboard.
Adding the API key to the MailPoet plugin in WordPress
Next, we simply paste the API key under the Key Activation tab in the plugin’s settings. Click on Verify to validate the key. You should get a similar message as shown in the screenshot above.
Activating MailPoet’s free email delivery plan in WordPress
Once you’ve configured the API key, head over the Send With tab (under MailPoet’s settings) and Activate the MailPoet Sending Service.
This is the confirmation that the sending service is now activated. All newsletters will now be sent using MailPoet’s email delivery service.
Configuring Newsletter Signup Confirmation Emails in MailPoet
MailPoet also enables you to configure double opt-in subscriptions. This means that when someone subscribes to your email list, an activation email is sent to them. Users need to click the link in the email to confirm their subscription to your newsletter. If you are using this feature, make sure that the From and Reply-to fields have the same email address that you have previously configured in My Authorized Emails in MailPoet.com.
Create Post Notification Campaign
Head over to your WordPress dashboard → MailPoet → Emails and click on Add New.
Click on Set up under the Latest Post Notifications tab and choose an email template in the following step.
In the email designer, drag and drop the Automatic Latest Content content block in your email. This dynamic module picks out the last “X” published posts in your blog and adds them to your newsletter.
Schedule Post Notification Campaign in MailPoet
Finally, you can schedule your Post Notification campaign to be sent immediately, or at a scheduled time. Pick an actionable subject line, the sender info, and click on Activate to launch the campaign. When you publish a new blog post, a notification email is sent to your subscribers.
We hope you found our hands-on MailPoet review helpful. The advent of WordPress has sprawled an ecosystem of freemium themes, plugins, and services that were just not possible a decade ago. MailPoet is a product of the WordPress ecosystem. It differentiates itself from email marketing behemoths like Mailchimp, along the following lines:
- It’s much faster to set up, with little or no configuration — you can send your first newsletter campaign in 15 minutes.
- There’s a short learning curve. In case you’re stuck there’s fast support for free users.
- It helps you save money — either by using your own host to send newsletters, or the free email sending service. Their paid plan is considerably cheaper than existing solutions. Plus you get to enjoy all their premium features in their new free plan (that’s limited to 1,000 subscribers)
The success of your email marketing campaign is determined by a multitude of factors, including a consistent publishing calendar, inviting comments to your newsletters, and replying to emails from your subscribers.
Sending newsletters in WordPress is just the beginning of your email marketing journey. MailPoet helps you kick it off on the right foot!